Music industry insights Q&A with Anthea Bennett

We chatted with Anthea Bennett, music kween and festival head, about her experiences starting in the music industry and organising a music festival on the Gold Coast, Hey Sunshine. 

SF: Tell us a little about Hey Sunshine, what’s it about and why did you want to do it?

Hey Sunshine is a 1970s surf-themed music party, I wanted to start Hey Sunshine as I just felt that an event like this was missing. I thought it was important to integrate surf elements into the event as a celebration of the coast’s surf culture. Essentially I just tried to create an event that I myself would be excited to go to, in the hope that others would be keen on it too.

SF: What has your experience been as a woman in the music industry? Have you experienced much sexism?

I haven’t had that much experience in the industry, just dipped my toes in, but as a woman, so far my experience has been positive and I haven’t experienced any sexism. I lived in Sydney last year and did a few industry internships, one with Sureshaker and one with Chugg Entertainment and both these organisations are very female friendly and have women in senior roles. From what I’ve seen it would be fair to say that the music industry is still male-dominated, but things are definitely changing, girls are getting stronger and smarter all the time.

SF: What are the people like in the industry? Is it hard to get into as a woman? 

From the friends I’ve met in the industry so far, everyone’s been awesome and very hard working. I wouldn’t say that being a woman makes it harder to get into the industry, for me I started working for a friend, went and did a music management course and a few internships then tried to get Hey Sunshine off the ground. But yeah I recommend persistence and pestering as your in-road into the industry!

SF: You don’t drink or take drugs, how do you think that affects the way you engage in the music industry? What are people’s reactions to this, and do you think it hinders or adds to your career or experiences?

I guess I end up having a better recollection of going to gigs and of meeting people (laughs). I do believe that not drinking/ taking drugs is of benefit to one’s career in the music industry, especially in the sector that I’m trying to get into, just simply for the fact that you’re afforded clear observations of say- a band’s performance, an audience’s reaction or a festival set up and you’re not sloppy when you go to meet people and potential collaborators.

And also, occasionally, when you come by that glorious gig that grabs you by the face and flings you around the moon – you know it’s due to the music and not due to the drugs.

Now that I’m a bit older and in my mid-twenties, people just accept that I don’t drink and are cool with it; but when I stopped drinking at 19 friends were kind of annoying about it and couldn’t understand it. But really the truth is – once you feel comfy being sober around drunk people, there’s no need to start drinking again.

SF: Tell us about the artists involved in Hey Sunshine, why did you want to book them?

All the artists I had seen before at gigs and had really enjoyed their sets and thought they’d be a great fit for Hey Sunshine. I work for my friend Erik on his festival Rabbits Eat Lettuce so that’s how I came to know The Wonky Queenslander crew. The Wonky Queenslander is always a highlight at Rabbits so I thought they’d be a fun inclusion for Hey Sunshine, they will keep us dancing in between band sets.

SF: What have been some challenges in organising the festival?

The original headliner had to pull out 10 days before Hey Sunshine was due to launch, so I was scrambling for a new replacement, I also had a massive uni assignment due that week and shifts at work, so I was losing my mind! (laughs) Very stoked and thankful that The Belligerents could fly in and save the day!

SF: Is this festival paving a way for a career in the music industry for you?

I really hope so, as stressful as this has been so far, I have really enjoyed it and really enjoyed the challenge. I just kinda get entranced in Hey Sunshine and it feels really right, even when it’s been going wrong.

What I’ve really loved about working on this project so far is that it requires you to use a whole breadth of different skills and thinking processes; you have to try to be creative and original, practical and disciplined, realistic yet ambitious, pleasant when people are peeving you, tip-top with your admin, on-point with your promo and just right with your interpersonal skills; it requires a lot, especially if you’re doing it by yourself. But yeah it’s been a solid challenge and I’m looking forward to building upon what I’ve learned from this inaugural Hey Sunshine event.

I just finished a nursing degree this year and am moving to Alice Springs in January to start work at Alice Springs hospital and I’m very excited about that, but I really hope to continue with Hey Sunshine and make it a yearly event for the Gold Coast. Ultimately after finishing my graduate nursing year, I’d love to do a couple of nursing shifts a week and some event stuff the rest of the time, that would be a lovely mix.

Any extra tidbits for us? How do people grab tickets to Hey Sunshine?

There are still tickets available. You can grab one from or on the gate on the day. They’ll be $10 extra on the gate though, so get one now and save some money, honey!

I’m really excited for everyone to see Thunder Fox, they will STUN you. Borneo is also heaps of fun and quite a quirky act and I’m psyched to see The Belligerents perform songs from their recently released debut album “Science Fiction”. The Belligerents are SO GOOD live so yeah pretty pumped for their set.


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